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Builder denies plotting to steal from customers
A self-employed builder accused of plotting to steal from frail and elderly householders has told a jury he was an honest businessman who dealt fairly with his customers.
Stewart Marshall, 44, began giving evidence in his defence from the witness box at Bradford Crown Court yesterday afternoon. Marshall, 44, of Mayfield Rise, Wyke, Bradford, and Len Lawrence, 49, of Bush Hill Fold, Queensbury, deny conspiracy to burgle.
Marshall and his daughter, Paige Marshall, 20, also of Mayfield Rise, plead not guilty to converting criminal property. Marshall’s partner, Emma Croasdell, 38, of the same address, denies arranging to control criminal property.
Stewart Marshall told the court he and Croasdell had been together for 20 years. They had two children together, including Paige Marshall.
He said he had worked with Lawrence over the years and they had fitted windows and mended roofs.
Questioned by his barrister, Ken Green, Marshall agreed he had had problems with drug use.
Marshall denied being involved in fraud against 81-year-old Maurice Lobley, who lived in Tingley. Mr Lobley, who died in 2011, is alleged to have paid out £22,000 for building work while suffering from dementia.
Marshall said he called on Joan Cottam, 90, of Embsay, near Skipton, in December, 2012, and she agreed to have work done on her home. He said he had started his own business and got her name and telephone number from a data sheet on the internet.
Mrs Cottam was “quite sharp” and he had no problem communicating with her, the court heard.
She wrote out cheques for £1,860, £1,200 and £1,500 before any work had been started. “We trusted each other,” Marshall said.
He said he needed six to eight weeks to get a bespoke door made and Mrs Cottam said there was no hurry.
Marshall said he had no bank account so the cheques were paid into the accounts of Paige Marshall, his sister Susan Roddis and his partner, Emma Croasdell. He told the jury he asked Mrs Cottam about a family member he could discuss the building work with.
“I just got that feeling that she had paid me in full and nothing had been done as such,” he said. But Mrs Cottam said her son lived some distance away and would not want to be disturbed.
The trial continues.